Reporter Nathan McIntire did tons of research to put the Monrovia crisis into perspective. His opus will appear in Sunday’s paper. It lays out the players, the stakes and the turmoil roiling the All America City. Here’s some excerpts:
While city leaders have been staunch in their support of the Police Department and its leadership, the lawsuits have cost Monrovia taxpayers nearly $680,000 in settlements and legal fees since 2006.
Two lawsuits have been settled by the city, and two are still pending. All include allegations that the department is rife with racial and sexual discrimination.
Johnson was a defendant in two of the lawsuits, but is named in all four. The actions of Police Sgt. Daniel Verna, currently on leave from the department, also figure prominently in the intertwined events described in the lawsuits.
“I think the management of the Police Department is corrupt. If the City Council wants to start doing anything about it, they should start terminating those in charge,” Leo Terrell, the attorney for two of the plaintiffs, said in an interview.
Nevertheless, Monrovia’s legal battles are noteworthy when compared to those of other public agencies.
The Los Angeles Fire Department, for example, has faced a similar barrage of employment-related harassment and discrimination lawsuits over the last few years.
From July 2005 to April 2008, 15 civil rights lawsuits against LAFD, which currently comprises 3,586 sworn members, have cost the city nearly $7 million in settlements and legal fees.
While LAFD is much larger than Monrovia’s Police Department, the fire department’s legal expenses work out to about $2,000 per sworn officer.
The four lawsuits against the Monrovia Police Department, which has only 55 sworn officers (plus six open positions), has so far cost the city about $680,000, or about $12,000 per officer.
Cobb’s attorney, Terrell, who also represents Thompson, said he plans to subpoena an officer currently on leave to testify in Thompson’s lawsuit.
“I believe that officer has given untruthful answers in the Cobb case,” said Terrell. “I think he was compromised, and I believe he was compromised by the management of the Police Department.”
That officer is, presumably, Verna.
In deposition records, Terrell noted that Verna was promoted to sergeant in mid-July 2006, a few weeks after he refused to provide a statement on behalf of Cobb.
You can read the whole story in tomorrow’s newspaper.